My 5 Favourite Ways to Spend a Day Off

Before I started working for myself I found it hard to truly enjoy my days off. I would feel bad at the end of the day if I hadn’t achieved a million and one things. It’s taken me a while to realise that really enjoying my days off benefits me so much more in the long run. If I can clear my head for a day then that clarity transfers into my work for the rest of the week. I’m still not the most perfect day off taker (I set an alarm so I don’t miss too much of the day) but I’m slowly but surely getting there. Living in Brighton means I have a plethora of interesting and special things to see and do. Having said that, looking through my list of Day Off things to do below, most of the activities are cosy slippers on options! Through my twenties I started to realise that my day off can be completely shaped by me and the things I actually love doing. It took me too long to realise that traipsing through the brightly lit shopping mall was probably one of the least fun ways for me to spend my spare time. Working as a florist for most of my working life has meant that I’ve adapted to having a mid-week day off because I sometimes work Saturdays or Sundays. A mid-week day off lifestyle has meant I’ve got used to having a day off on my own and all of the activities I’ve written below definitely reflect that!

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1. Pottering around Brighton shops

Even though I’ve said that a shopping mall is not the place for me, wandering through the North Laine in Brighton is one of my favourite things to do. Even if I’m walking back home from somewhere else, I’ll conveniently find my way home via the North Laine boutique shops. Here are a list with links of the shops I always end up walking into, even without thinking:

Hope & Harlequin, Wolf & Gypsy Vintage, Lavender Room, Beyond Retro, and Upstairs at Snoopers Paradise (which I couldn’t seem to find a website for). These shops have such a nice atmosphere and are full of beautifully displayed vintage cloths, scented candles and home-ware goodies.

2. Make a Victoria Sponge

Baking is generally great because it’s relaxing making the cake and then you get to eat the cake. I find Victoria Sponge is my favourite cake to make because I know my recipe off by heart now. This is a family recipe that my Mum showed me when I was small. I’m sure it’s got a big Delia Smith influence because her recipe books have been in my family kitchen for longer than the kitchen sink.

Here’s how I make a Victoria Sponge:

Ingredients (I haven’t put all the measurements because the sponge ingredients each weigh the same as the eggs):

Unsalted Butter

Caster Sugar

4 Eggs

Self Raising Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

300ml Double Cream

Dollops of Raspberry Jam

A handful of Strawberries

Icing Sugar to dust

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

On a piece of baking parchment, trace round your baking tins with a pencil and cut out the paper circles to lay in the bottom of each tin. Grease the insides of the tin with a little butter too.

Weigh the eggs with the shells on. Make a note of this weight because whatever they weigh in total is how much all the other ingredients are each going to weigh. Once weighed, put the eggs to the side. I’ll usually use 4 eggs (photographed cake is a 7 egger).

Weigh out the caster sugar and butter (both each weighing the same as the eggs). Chop the butter into little bits so it’s easier to stir. Place in a large bowl and with a wooden spoon, cream these 2 ingredients together until the mixture becomes light in colour.

Weigh out the self-raising flour and put a level teaspoon of baking powder in the flour too.

Into the butter and sugar mix crack in one egg at a time with a little bit of sifted flour. Gently beat the egg into the mixture and repeat with each egg. I add the flour with the egg to stop the mix from curdling, keeping it glossy and smooth instead. Once all the eggs are mixed in, sift in the rest of the flour.

Using a figure of eight movement, gently fold in the flour in a floaty movement, turning the bowl as you go.

The reason I put the baking powder in with the flour is to make sure the baking powder doesn’t end up in the mix in one clump because it tastes horrible if it isn’t thinly distributed through the cake. I’ve eaten a carrot cake I made once, with a lump of baking powder in and it was a terrible experience.

Dollop out half and half of the mixture into your two prepared tins. Bake for 20 minutes and check if it’s done. You can tell it's done if the cake bounces bake if you gently push your finger in it or if a skewer pushed in, comes out clean. Let the cakes cool and then take them out the tins, putting them on a cooling rack. Once completely cool, use raspberry jam and whipped double cream in between the two tiers. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with cut strawberries.

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3. Going back in time to somewhere old

I sometimes dream about being born in a different decade long ago. I’m grateful living in the here and now but every now and again I’d like to throw my phone in a pond, put on a tea dress and dance around the record player with a cocktail in hand. The easiest way to travel back in time is to read an Agatha Christie novel or visit an old country house. My local favourites include National Trust Nymans, Preston Manor, the Royal Pavilion and National Trust Petworth. I love wandering through the huge rooms, deciding which dressing table I’d have and which wallpaper would look best in the front room.

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4. Listen to Podcasts

It wasn’t until around this time last year that I realised what podcasts actually where! I was amazed to discover that I could listen to them for free on the mysterious podcast app on my phone. Now I am absolutely addicted and probably listen to podcasts for about 3 hours a day. When I’m walking around or running errands I love having a podcast on in my headphones. When I’m working I have a list of amazing business podcasts I listen to to soak up all the juicy business knowledge. But when it’s my day off I have my favourite list of non-business podcasts. I regularly find myself chuckling along or gasping at a shocking story and forgetting I’m out in public.

Here are my current favourites:

The High Low (keep up to date with current affairs but also laugh a lot and learn handy facts to share with your friends), Everything I know about Love (listen to enchanting stories of love from comedians, authors and journalists), School for Dumb Women (learn about things you feel you should really know already and also laugh a lot), Desert Island Discs (the Radio 4 classic we all know and love), and Table Manners (listen to food stories and pick up dinner party recipes).

If you go on your podcast app and search those titles, you should be able to find them and then become an avid listener like me.

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5. The Big Screen
I do love reading but I also can’t deny that I love watching a film or a good telly drama. Recently I went to see A Star is Born which stayed with me for days afterwards. I put the song Shallows on when I need to get a good sing-along out of my system. I used to live in Bristol and a cinema ticket at The Orpheus cost about £3 on Mondays and I went pretty much every week. I also have a habit of going on Netflix and searching for an actor I really feel like watching. Bill Nighy and Judy Dench feature regularly in my searches. I’ll also admit that I am an itv2 addict. I find so much comfort watching a Poirot, Miss Marple, Lewis, or Midsummer Murders. The Viking River Cruises and power assisted chair adverts may be wasted on me but the programmes are a great way for me to completely unwind and disappear into another world.

Looking over my favourite day off activities, I’m possible living in a nostalgic world circa 1920-50 but I’m glad I’ve finally found how I truly enjoy time off. A dream midweek day off for me is a day of baking, pottering around the shops, laughing along at a podcast, disappearing back in time to a National Trust or with a film and generally staying off my phone for as much as I can! The temptation to scroll is a strong one but I’m working on that.

What are your favourite podcasts, films, places to shop, ways to spend your day off? I’d love to find out! Tell me over here on Instagram.

All photos in this post are by the ever talented Sophie Carefull Photography

Want to start a new hobby for your days off?